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Kershaw leaves lasting legacy

After nine years as councillor for the District of Sechelt, Ann Kershaw has decided to call it quits to local politics. Kershaw is pleased that she's leaving with her three main objectives fulfilled.

After nine years as councillor for the District of Sechelt, Ann Kershaw has decided to call it quits to local politics.

Kershaw is pleased that she's leaving with her three main objectives fulfilled. Highest on her list when she came to council was the building of a swimming pool. And as of June this year that dream is about to be realized. At last Thursday's meeting (Oct. 13) the District chose the architect firm of Vic Davies for the project.

"It goes to show if you're tenacious and patient it will work," Kershaw said.

Another of Kershaw's passionate interests is arts and culture. Under Kershaw's leadership, the District of Sechelt has produced a family arts and culture festival for the past two years. And while such festivals are important for attracting tourism to the Coast, Kershaw said it's important for local citizens as well.

"We need to beautify our lives," she said.

The festival came about when funds became available for arts in Sechelt. A number of groups responded to calls for presentations on how to spend the money.

"We had presentations about drum sets, a dance festival, a big band festival Ñ and we thought we'd take a little of each and try to please everyone."

For coming years Kershaw would like to see the film community well as drama groups on the Coast get involved.Another long-time concern Kershaw has had is with the Sechelt Airport. She's glad that after nine years Sechelt finally has sole ownership of the airport."We can now proceed to the community to get them to tell us what they would like done with [the airport]," she said. "The airport is going to play a major role in Sechelt's future. It's a real triumph to even be in a position to develop it - not necessarily expand it," she added.Over the years Kershaw has found the biggest challenge to be the lack of women on council. In her first term Kershaw had the company of two other women, but for the past two terms she's been the lone female on council."The gentlemen have been gentlemen. They've been like big brothers to me. However, it would have been nice to be more balanced. I've talked to many women and said, 'Try it, you'll enjoy it,'" she said.

The amount of time required to do a proper job of community politics may be part of the reason women shy away from running for local government.

Kershaw estimates she attended 265 meetings last year. The meetings varied in length from one hour to one day. And that's not counting the hours spent preparing for the meetings.

"Especially the first year, you're on a real learning curve then," she said.

Kershaw's diligence in learning about the job was not lost on current mayor, Cameron Reid.

"She had a real passion for detail and understanding all the facts," Reid said. He also said it wasn't unusual for Kershaw to read everything and then ask the staff for more information about an issue.

Reid said Kershaw also had a passion for the arts.

"She was always urging council to pay attention to and be aware of the arts," he said. Reid gives credit for the family arts festival and the First Night event held a couple of years ago to Kershaw. But most of all Reid said the retiring councillor was willing to listen to all sides of an issue.

"She didn't come with her own opinion or her own agenda. We're really going to miss her," he said.

One of the least pleasant aspects of council for the retiring member has been people who don't do their homework.

"It's as much their responsibility to be informed as it is for politicians to inform them." She found it hard to be patient with citizens who don't avail themselves of the many sources of information in the community.

"They don't read the paper, they don't come to council meetings, then something happens and they're furious," she explained.

Away from council, Kershaw has been a member of the Rotary Club of the Sunshine Coast for several years. Her biggest joy is her family. "I have 13 grandchildren. The closest are in Vancouver and the other half are in Ontario. Summers are pretty busy," she laughs.

Over the past year Kershaw has had great personal losses. Her husband Tom and youngest daughter both died. The longtime councillor said those trying times helped her to make up her mind about running for office again.

"Life is pretty short and it's pretty precious. You never know what's going to happen," Kershaw said.